Amid rising panic over reports of mysterious ‘braid-chopping’ incidents, Mutnai village of Dauki police station area in Agra saw a 65-year-old Dalit woman, Maan Devi, being beaten to death in an upper caste locality by people who suspected her of being the witch who was going around chopping women’s hair.
Interestingly, no cases of hair-chopping have been reported from this village. The police have booked the accused on charges of murder and also under the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
Panic in U.P.
The lynching comes in the wake of reports over the past week from Delhi, Haryana, and Rajasthan where women have complained of their hair being mysteriously chopped off while they were asleep. The reports caused panic in parts of western Uttar Pradesh, as in the last two days the local media reported ten cases — six from Mathura, two from Agra, and one from Ghaziabad — of sleeping women waking up to find their hair ‘chopped off’.
Macchla Devi, 35, in Mangraul Jat village of Acchnera area in Agra woke up to find her hair cut. Similarly, Premvati, a resident of Sheshram village in Mathura, found her braids cut although she had been working in her home.
“She was too shocked to talk about it when she found her chopped off in her bedroom. She called me and showed me the hair. It was scary,” Naval Singh, husband of Premvati, told The Hindu . In some cases reported from Mathura, villagers had approached tantriks instead of the police with complaints.
Meanwhile in Khair town of Aligarh, on Thursday afternoon, a mob surrounded a woman on suspicion that she was the “hair chopper”. Police reached the spot before the crowd started misbehaving with her, and took the woman in custody.
Senior police officials said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had directed all district magistrates and senior superintendents of police to probe the alleged incidents. While discussing the law and order situation with senior district officials of the State via video conference on Wednesday, Mr. Adityanath said the culprits involved in acts of mischief and vandalism should face strict action.
The police haven’t acted on these rumours till now as no complaints have been registered. “So far there are only media reports of the incidents. No victim has come forward to register a complaint. The police will take cognizance if the number of incidents goes up or if someone registers a complaint,” said the SSP Mathura, Swapnil Mamgain.